Trafalgar Studios, London
Saturday 6th July - Saturday 7th September 2019

Equus, a co-production between English Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East, is an abstract telling of young Alan Strang, who one night viciously blinds six horses in a stable to which he works at on weekends, and Dr. Martin Dysart's focus to uncover the motive of the attack, which sees us as an audience travel back in Strang's past to his childhood, right the way through to the night of the fatal attack.

Inspired by a true story, Ned Bennett is in the directing chair for this production, and produces a play in which keeps you compelled and gripped to the final moments. It's unclear whether we should show any mercy to Strang as the buildup to the night in question at the stable is unraveled, but the way that Bennett grapples with our emotions by keeping the majority of the staging simplistic, which is helped hugely by Georgia Lowe's bleak staging, allows us to focus primarily on Ethan Kai's remarkable performance. Writer Peter Shaffer also brings in the parents of Alan to mix up the action, with some brilliant storytelling and relationships between father and son that may feel vaguely familiar to many in the audience. Humour is also something not forgotten; Norah Lopez Holden brings innocence and a light relief to Alan's life in the form of emotional feelings, and a scene involving a cinema screening allows us to relax and join in on what is a lighter moment in this tense concoction of a theatrical event.

Physically is something which proves hugely successful and prominent in this piece, with an astonishing array of ensemble members, particularly from Ira Mandela Siobhan, who as Nugget, one of the horses from Alan's past, possess a realistic interpretation of the mammal in every sense, and even more so when the rest of the cast join together to form the body of this creature. Jessica Hung Han Yun takes full advantage of the dust cloths hung every side of the stage to allow side lighting, as well as silhouettes, to give a menacing, striking image during a particular moment in the latter parts of the play, before havoc breaks loose and the staging is suddenly bare, with Alan's anger suddenly built up to rage, which provides a beautiful physical piece in which Shelley Maxwell has choreographed with a keen eye in bringing vocally distress from the auditorium.

Overall, Equus is a compelling piece of theatre where it's storytelling takes us on a journey of discovery in real time, keeping us on the edge of our seats, even when we are fully aware of the outcome from the beginning.


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